Today is Professor Gillian Triggs’ last day at the Human Rights Commission. Her five years as president have been vexed.
She has stared down two prime ministers, two immigration ministers and the attorney-general in a series of public rows.
It is hard to recall a public servant as publicly derided by the government of the day as Professor Triggs.
The attacks have been vicious, unrelenting and deeply personal. Her integrity and professionalism has been called into question. She was asked to resign. She has been accused of lying, playing politics and had her personal life scrutinised cruelly.
Despite this, the former dean of Sydney University Law School, told Radio National’s Fran Kelly earlier today she “has no regrets” about her time at the commission.
Professor Triggs says she has "no regrets" about her time at the commission and hopes it's work will continue.
— Stephanie Peatling (@srpeatling) July 25, 2017
Her appointment has coincided with an unprecedented politicisation of human rights, which have, quite inexplicably, been demonised during Triggs’ tenure.
It has been that way because of a government the international public lawyer described as “ideologically opposed to human rights.”
She says human rights in Australia have “regressed on almost every front – women, Indigenous, homeless, asylum seekers”.
Gillian Triggs says human rights in Australia have regressed during her tenure, citing Indigenous, asylum seekers and homeless specifically
— Bridie Jabour (@bkjabour) July 25, 2017
Speaking to the ABC’s Radio National Triggs said the government has introduced more legislation on terrorism than the UK and or the United States. She says while the federal government spends billions on border force and the AFP, the Human Rights Commission’s budget is $14 million.
Back in 2012 when Triggs retired from her position at Sydney University, it is unlikely she predicted the lion’s den she was about to join.
It has been an astonishing challenge. As we’ve observed before, her grace under fire, her tenacity, her courage, her resilience has been extraordinary to observe. It has, no doubt, come at some personal cost and yet you have persevered.
For five long years when you, quite easily, could have walked away. You maintained your focus and advocacy for human rights.
You have taught leadership by example which is why we salute you, Professor Triggs.
We hope you have a (long) holiday planned.